I came crashing into the Catholic Church in 1990, two years after reading St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s autobiography, The Story of a Soul. Having been blown away by Thérèse and her radical love, I recognized the truth of that love and knew my life had to radically change.
I thought it was impossible that I’d become Catholic. “ME — Catholic??” But when I realized that the sacrificial love I found so compelling in Thérèse was in fact the love of Jesus Christ, I knew the “impossible” was happening—I was going to be Catholic. My heart already was.
Before long, the rebel in me started to like the counter-cultural aspect of “crossing the Tiber.” Books like St. Faustina’s Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Catherine of Siena’s Dialogue, and St. Teresa of Avila’s autobiography were my early spiritual food. I became ambitious to be the best darn Catholic anyone had ever seen. And by absorbing the wisdom of the saints in their own words, I expected that with enough prayer and especially will power, I would make a bee-line to sanctity in, oh, a couple of years—tops.
Reality sets in
Problem is, bees don’t always fly straight. Or fast. They ascend, descend, zig-zag, and hover a lot. And they’re never so rich in pollen that they don’t have to go out in search of a supply for another day.
When it dawned on me that the saint thing wasn’t going to happen any time soon, the reality of two steps forward, one step back sank in. But with God’s grace, it’s a wavy line that tends upward, and that’s what matters.
Thirty-one years later, my spiritual journey still has its ups and downs. For example, during a vacation last month, I resolved to “schedule what’s important” for August. I made a calendar. The idea, which I got from Michael Hyatt, is to put things like adoration or exercise on the calendar first, so we have an “appointment” around which all our other demands are scheduled instead of winging-it day by day. But when I got home from vacation, I got busy and forgot about the calendar!
I found it a week later. Then I forgot about it again. I finally put it out where I could see it, but buried it under other papers. When it surfaced, I’d see what “important thing” was scheduled for tomorrow and think, “Well, I won’t have time for a whole hour of adoration—something else has come up.”
This past week I nearly crashed and burned. Well, I guess I did crash and burn. I answered a “reply all” email in a way that hurt people that I love and respect. I brought it to Confession and prayed to Our Lady Undoer of Knots, the Holy Spirit, St. Joseph, and my guardian angel to bring healing to any harm I had done. The celestial help kicked in a couple of days later when my apology resulted in a gracious reply.
That’s just my latest zig-zag.
But as the years go by, I put more emphasis on the steps forward (gratitude) and am more accepting of the steps back (humility). After all, they say it’s a sign of pride to be too surprised that we’ve done something boneheaded.
What about that calendar?
I’m grateful for the step-forward of making the calendar in the first place because it gives me a better shot of following it from now on instead of just “trying” to spend as much time praying as I need to.
Be assured that I am praying for you for the courage to take the next step forward in your spiritual journey. Please pray for me.
St. Augustine wrote to a woman friend named Proba about the importance of growing her prayer life (below). I hope it inspires you to pray before pressing “send”…and to schedule what’s important!
P.S. If you could use some inspiration and practical help in getting your prayer life back on track, help is on the way! Click here to learn more.